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  1. LGBT Students: our response as educators • Ashley Foster

  2. What is LGBT? • Stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals • Sometimes a “Q” is added for individuals who are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation

  3. Our Goals as Educators • What are some of the reasons you became a teacher? • Was it a passion for kids? • A passion for learning? • A desire to make a difference in students’ lives? If we want ALL students to reach their potential, they need a safe and affirming environment in which to learn

  4. Why Middle School? • When did you have your first crush? • Middle school is a time when students are starting to become attracted to one another • This may be a time when they discover a same-sex attraction • It is important that we are aware of LGBT issues so that we can be affirming of our student’s choices

  5. Different Obstacles • Some of the obstacles LGBT students face include: bullying at school disrupting education, family rejection, and difficulties finding safe places to form supportive relationships • Higher rates of self-destructive behaviors among LGBT youth (drinking, drug taking, unsafe sexual practices and self-harm) • LGBT youth leave home earlier than their peers due to difficulties coming out and living as LGBT (McDermott, Roen, & Scourfield, 2008; Muñoz-Plaza, Quinn, & Rounds, 2002)

  6. Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) provides 10 steps to safe schools: 1. Learn the Facts 2. Understand the Language 3. Stop Bad Behavior 4. Set the Policy 5. Plan School-Wide Activities 6. Be Public 7. Cyber Bullying 8. Train and Educate 9. Comprehensive Health Education 10. Resources Safe Schools (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  7. #1: Learn the Facts • 86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1% reported being physically harassed, and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. • 73.6% heard derogatory remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently at school. • More than half (60.8%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexualorientation, and more than a third (38.4%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression. (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  8. #1: Learn the Facts • Negative effects on learning: • 31.7% of LGBT students missed a class and 32.7% missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe, compared to only 5.5% and 4.5%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students. • The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.8 versus 2.4). (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  9. #1: Learn the Facts • To learn the facts about our school climate, we can administer “The Local School Climate Survey” provided by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 2010)

  10. #2: Learn the Language • Sexual Orientation: Refers to one’s sexual and romantic attraction • Gender Identity: A person’s internal sense of being male, female or somewhere in between • Gender Expression: How a person chooses to communicate their gender identity to others through clothing, hair, styles, mannerisms, etc. This may be conscious or subconscious. • Gay: A man whose primary romantic and sexual attraction is to other males. Gay is also used as an inclusive term. (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  11. #2: Learn the Language • Lesbian: A woman whose primary romantic and sexual attraction is to other females • Bisexual: Men and women who have romantic and sexual attraction to both men and women • Transgender: A broad term describing the state of a person’s gender identity which does not necessarily match his/her given gender at birth • Queer: Some LGBT individuals use the word queer as an umbrella term. Be careful: some still find it offensive (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  12. #3: Stop Bad Behavior • Main ideas: • Don’t ignore discriminatory behaviors • Don’t excuse discriminatory behaviors • Managing Harassment: • Do deal with the situation immediately • Do confirm that the particular type of abuse is hurtful and harmful and will not be tolerated • Do value everyone’s feelings by listening carefully • Do take those involved aside and discuss the incident • Do use it as a “teachable moment” if appropriate (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  13. #3: Stop Bad Behavior • Managing Harassment: • Don’t less harassment pass unchallenged • Don’t overreact with a put-down to the offender • Don’t impose consequences before finding out exactly what happened from all individuals • Don’t embarrass either party publicly • Don’t assume the incident is isolated • Note: Some students use phrases such as “that’s so gay” or “faggot” in ways that are not meant to be discriminatory towards LGBT students. Do you think that makes it okay? (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  14. #5: Plan School-wide Activities • Every member of the school community (students, parents, teachers, and administrators) should understand the school’s commitment to protect students from discrimination • Films • Let’s Get Real (middle school) "Let's Get Real" trailer • Books • Provide resources in school library: • Programs • “Think Before You Speak Campaign” “Day of Silence” and more... (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009; Gay-Straight Alliance Network, 2010; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, 2010)

  15. #6: Be Public • Displaying a sign such as the PFLAG safe schools sign in your classroom shows students that you support diversity and oppose bullying and harassment (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  16. #7: Cyber Bullying • Be aware that much of the harassment LGBT students face is online • Take it seriously. Cyber bullying can be just as hurtful as traditional bullying in school. • Educate your students about the realities of communicating online (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 2009)

  17. #10: Resources • There are many organizations and resources available to assist schools in providing a safe environment for LGBT students: • Safe Schools Coalition • Groudspark • Teaching Tolerance • The Trevor Project • Lambda Legal • Advocates for Youth • Think Before You Speak

  18. Our Next Step • Evaluate your personal values on this topic • Consider your goals for all students • Consider putting some of the strategies into practice to protect students from harassment

  19. References Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. (2010). Think Before You Speak: Local School Climate Survey. Retrieved from: Gay-Straight Alliance Network. (2010). Resources. Retrieved from: McDermott, E., Roen, K., & Scourfield, J. (2008). Avoiding shame: young lgbt people, homophobia and self-destructive behaviours. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10(8), 815-829. Muñoz-Plaza, C., Quinn, S., & Rounds, K. (2002). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students: Perceived social support in the high school environment. The High School Journal, 85(4), 52-63. Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays. (2009). Safe Schools for All. Retrieved from: